Before there was Anita Blake or Vicki Nelson, there was Diana Tregarde - writer, witch and Guardian. Tregarde is the predecessor of the smart, sexy, female occult detectives. Sometimes she works with a psychic Dallas cop, sometimes trouble finds her by itself. Whether dealing with vampires, gypsies, or Aztec gods, Tregarde is the type of strong, independent fighter of evil we've come to expect these days.
Lackey wrote three books in this series - BURNING WATER (1989), CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT (1990), JINX HIGH (1991) - before poor sales and a few psychotic fans convinced her to turn elsewhere. Over the years, Lackey has flatly and absolutely stated that she will not write any more Tregarde books. Now 16 years later and a huge surge in paranormal Fantasy, it appears that Lackey was just ahead of her genre. And Tor is (yay!) rereleasing these books, starting with BURNING WATER in January 2005 and CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT in August. Compared to current publishing, the Tregarde books seem almost restrained -- and compared to Lackey's writing now, they are quite unpolished -- but they are still fun reads. And there's a romance that had just barely started. Maybe, just maybe, Lackey will reconsider and give us more!
HARROWING THE DRAGON -- McKillip Collection, Great Selections (Rebekah)
HARROWING THE DRAGON has been a long time coming. It's a collection of the best of Patricia McKillip's short stories from the last twenty-five years. I'm a big McKillip fan so only two of the fifteen stories were new to me, but that also means over the years I've tracked down and bought thirteen random anthologies. Now I have the best of the stories inside one lovely Kinuko Craft cover.
I approve of the story choices for this collection. McKillip can be very opaque, and while I enjoy the lovely language, sometimes I still wonder what in the world actually happened in the story.
The stories in this collection are her more successful (in my opinion), i.e., beautiful but still accessible. My all-time favorite remains "The Fellowship of the Dragon," where five female members of a queen's court go in search of the queen's kidnapped lover. The novella "A Matter of Music" is also excellent--McKillip makes you hear in your mind instruments that never existed.
A few of the stories aren't even Fantasy when stripped down to the bare plots, such as "In the middle of a long harsh winter, a woman loses her lover and discovers herself." In fact multiple of them could be seen as fairly mundane when described in plain plot-points, like "scullery maid grows up and leaves the kitchen." But McKillip's writing is anything but mundane or plain. Her words create living tapestries of magic, leaving you pleasantly muddled and prone to poetic phrases (though I'm trying to resist).
For new readers to McKillip, I'd recommend starting with one her of novels such as RIDDLEMASTER OF HED or BOOK OF ATRIX WOLFE, but for readers already somewhat acquainted with McKillip, this is a great collection.--Rebekah
VALIANT by Holly Black -- Ambivalence (Preeti, Margaret)
I like the world Holly Black has created in VALIANT and the related book, TITHE--the juxtaposition of faeries and the urban landscape of NYC--but some of the darkness in this book turned me off. The murder in the abandoned subway station was the scene from which I didn't quite recover.
The story arc with Ravus the troll was intriguing, but his relationship with Val seemed too abrupt. Me being me, this is what I wanted to read about most, but the focus of the story lay more with Val's new friends and Val's own journey, of course.
The homeless teen band were unlikable and kept getting more so as the book progressed. I know they're a means to show Val's alienation, fall into self-destruction and redemption or something, but I've never enjoyed spending time with characters I dislike in the books I read. (This reminds me of a high school friend, though--the more messed up the kids were in a book, the more fascinating she found it. She ended up a clinical psychologist, natch.)
What captured my imagination most from the book were the physical spaces in the story, especially the abandoned subway station and the home under the bridge so perfect for a modern troll. These reminded me of the allure secret hideaways held for me as a kid.--Preeti
I thought the start was well done--now there is a really good reason for running away from home and refusing to call your mother! I didn't enjoy Val's life on the street. It was written convincingly enough, but I found it uninteresting and unpleasant, though I suppose it was necessary to establish "normality" before introducing the Faerie element.
I like Black's Faerie--incomprehensible and dangerous--and the way their world interacts with ours. I did not like the thoughtless and easy way Val slid into drug taking and betrayal of Ravus--it seemed out of character, so I felt I didn't know her as well as I thought I did. I was somewhat less interested in her after that. Most of the characters were unsympathetic and rather shallow. The most interesting were Ravus and Val's friend Ruth. Val's relationship with Ravus didn't get enough space to make it convincing.
I also felt there was too much message: if you take drugs it feels great but you do really stupid things--break the law, endanger yourself and your friends, sleep with the wrong people and betray those who trust you. I felt that this was a message the author thrust at me rather than one that I found for myself.
Holly Black seems to have an aversion to cats--any cat that appears in her books seems to get killed. As I am very fond of cats I find this casual brutality distressing.--Margaret
Forthcoming Books Page Updated -- Thank You, Locus
Through a combination of the new issue of Locus, internet searching, and reader tips, I've updated the forthcoming books page through next December. Some thoughts from having updated the page:
Although I've heard there's no romance in Naomi Novik'sTemeraire series, or at least in the first one, a couple of my buddies here on the site who are more plugged into SF fandom than I am are very excited about it. Also, I see that this trilogy is being released with only one month separating each volume. That's great news for readers. I've seen this done many times in the romance genre but hadn't seen it in fantasy yet.
Lynn Flewelling'sTHE ORACLE'S QUEEN, the long-awaited third book in the Tamir trilogy, is set to be released in July 2006.
Pamela Dean'sTAM LIN is being reissued in August, which may finally provide a hook for me to read the book.
Uh, oh. Patricia McKillip's new book SOLSTICE WOOD is a contemporary novel with what seems like gothic overtones. I guess that explains why the cover doesn't feature Kinuko Craft artwork.
The cover art for THE QUEEN IN WINTER anthology is unusual and striking. Even if the book wasn't an auto-buy based on containing a story by Sharon Shinn, I'd have given it serious consideration as a purchase based on that cover.
Did anyone here ever read Pauline Alama's debut novel, THE EYE OF NIGHT, published in 2002? I enjoyed it although I never wrote a review. I don't know where I picked up the information, but it looks like she finally has another book in the publishing pipeline.
The December 2005 Locus features interviews with writers Robin Hobb and Paul McAuley, Listings of Forthcoming Books in the US and UK through September 2006, and news stories about the the World Fantasy Awards, the folding of Sci Fiction, and Baen's new online magazine.
News which caught our eye: Gene Wolfe sold SOLDIER OF SIDON, third in his series begun with SOLDIER IN THE MIST and SOLDIER OF ARETE, to Tor. [Ayiiieee! I think I've had this listed on the features page under "sequels we've been waiting for" forever! (Preeti)] Lois McMaster Bujold sold fantasy THE SHARING KNIFE, to be published in two volumes, to HarperCollins. More info in a previous post. Catherine Asaro sold the first three novels in her "Topaz Cycle" romantic fantasy series to Luna Books. Kim Harrison sold three novels to, and will edit a supernatural/paranormal anthology for, Eos. She also delivered A FISTFUL OF CHARMS to Eos. Rosemary Clement Moore sold first novel PROM DATES FROM HELL and a sequel to Delacorte.
Poll: New Urban Fantasy Series -- Hog Heaven or Overkill?
Here are the urban fantasy series that have been launched in the last couple of months or will be in the following year. That I know of. If you know of others, leave a comment with the info. (I'll add links to Amazon or the authors' sites later on.)
You know, I have no idea what to call the books inspired by the success of Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher, and others other than urban fantasy. If you have a better term, please share.